Pure As The Driven Slush

Who is the enemy? Seems a question asked with that presumes, if not certifies, there are enemies.

This morning I read the Boston Globe has invited editorials to address the question if the “press is the real enemy.”

Of course, none of the 350 who pledged to write for today, Thursday, August 16, 2018, will acknowledge their part, if only a short paragraph of the 100’s they write. They will proclaim, some with creative depth, they are pure. To that William Sloane Coffin once said, his cynicism never under control, “Yeah, pure as the driven slush.”

The charge of duplicitous cause by the press, or the taking away security clearance because someone is dishonest and unpredictable and demeaning to public officials, is more rampant than real. That is not uncommon, to charge someone because they don’t like you. That’s perhaps the most basic.

What is this? Not sure, but being unsure is not rationale to demur.

I’ve just finished a memoir of the “some years” as an ordained clergy person. Will be published down the calendar. However, in writing this memoir, “Cabin In The Storm” focused, with clarity as never before, some newspaper guys I know. To that end, I share a few, because they, at least in their “news-ing” never extolled let alone were dishonest.

The one for whom I have the greatest admiration is Sam Smith. Yeah, in a musing manner, a guy with that most common name has to do something unique, right? Well, he does, and his name could be Creighton Hammer and still his writing is so very admirable. Sam and I met when I was serving a church in Chicago. He covered the Chicago Bulls. Wrote a book that was deemed scandalous, about Michael Jordan. “Jordan Rules” was all about truth and the manner by which the NBA champion never eschewed denigrating others. No one who liked Jordan could agree. But. Sam Smith is all about truth. His latest book, Hard Labor, brings such powerful truths I’m surprised those who want to protect professional sports even allow it to be still circulated.

I invited Sam to speak about “The Ethics of Professional Athletes” and he did. To hundreds of our members. What I so appreciate about Sam is he’s not fierce and vindictive. Far from it. He shares the truth and is the master of the nuance.

We continue our friendship—theologically he from the Hebrew tradition and I from Christianity—to conjure how the truth can fracture conservative thought, such thought that prizes myopia. Sam? I value your friendship. Always will…Shalom.

Another has a very uncommon name: Ferd Borsch. When I was in my first year of high school, Portland, Oregon, circa 1954, there was a writer for the Oregonian, covered high school sports. One day he called me for an interview. Initially I thought it was a friend who invented a weird name. How weird of me, actually. Ferd, for whatever reason, wrote of this “stylish lefthander” for the Jefferson High School Baseball team. Sure. That got my attention.

He then called me and wanted a more extensive conversation, as if a freshman in high school could provide same. I went along with the illusion. That began a wonderful friendship [Sigh, that is often the case when you are affirmed!] What I appreciated most about Ferd was not that he wrote that a lefthander could be smooth with a sharp-breaking curve ball. No, no, no. What I appreciated is this: he never looked the other way if something amiss needed to be included in his editorials. Ferd moved to Hawaii and has passed on. The impact, though personally…is profound.

Today a third adds to the list—with deep appreciation and pathos. I’ve often mentioned Bill Monroe, Outdoor Editor of the Oregonian and Oregon Live. Bill has written for perhaps a thousand years. He covers all the outdoor options in the Northwest, be it hunting or fishing. He gives updated reports. He does it all. And better than well.

I remember when he and I fished together in the Columbia River—he wanted to learn more about my “Oregon Days,” which might have been “Oregon Daze.” I found him to be gracious and perceptive. He’s so rare in newspaper writing: a writer who has wisdom and can tell when someone cannot keep their nose from growing.

The “pathos” is because two days ago his daughter, Kelli, was killed in a brutal car accident in northern California. Someone came over the highway divide and crashed into Kelli’s vehicle. Truth is, at least from my “take from the bridge,” NOTHING is harder than for a parent to bury a child.

So sad. So tragic. Bill? I write with as much support as I can provide…and ask God to be with you and your family.

Discoursing this…of course there’s a theme. How we can somehow not be denigrating others with no self-regard or self-admission of how we are like slush.

What I wish? That our national leadership when they charge someone else –most often critics from the other side of the aisle, as being dishonest, wayward and demeaning—might say that only when they face a mirror.


About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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